In 1755 the 51st Regiment of Foot was renumbered (from the 53rd). It received a county designation in 1782, as the 51st (2nd Yorkshire, West Riding) Regiment of Foot. In 1821 the regiment received royal status, becoming the 51st (2nd Yorkshire, West Riding, The King’s Own Light Infantry) Regiment. During the early 19th century the regiment served in the Napoleonic and Peninsular campaigns and served at Waterloo in 1815.
Between August and December 1837, six convict ships left Britain with 51st Regiment guards on board bound for New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. The regiment continued to arrive in Australia as convict guards, and in larger numbers on troopships, during the decade that followed. Some of these ships are profiled on the Ships page. Arguably the most famous of the journeys made by 30 officers and men was on the ship Buffalo. That story can be read on the Anecdotes page.In June 1840, a detachment of 145 officers and men arrived in Western Australia on Runnymede from Hobart; a further 46 men arrived on Eudora and Champion between 1841 and 1844. Thirty three 51st men took their discharge and settled in Western Australia; one of them was this man featured on the right.
The 51st in Australia left Hobart for India on Java in 1847. Its last port of call was on 15th March 1847 when the balance of the detachment in WA boarded Java on her way to Calcutta.
|NAME Richard SEATON||Name variations: None encountered.|
|Birth Date and Place||c. 1816 [deduced].|
|Baptism Date and Place|
|Marriage Date and Place|
|Land Acquisition in WA|
|Death Date and Place||4 Nov1848 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.#354]. *See Additional Details.|
Cause of Death: Heart disease [WHIT-STAT p.99].
|Burial Date and Place|
|Death, Funeral, Obituary Notices||None.|
|Will and Probate||None.|
|Regiment||51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding, The Kings Own Light Infantry) Regiment.|
|Soldier No. and Rank||#1120 Private.|
|Enlistment Date and Place||4 Sep 1837 Chatham HQ.|
Age 21 years. Bounty paid to recruit £3 0s. 0d. [WO12-6200-112].
|Physical Description||Height: 5 ft. 6.5/8 ins.|
|Medals, Clasps and Badges||Good Conduct Badge and pay 1d. per diem from 12 Sep 1846 [WO12-6208-148].|
|Arrival Australia: Ship and Date||HMS Buffalo -Convict Ship.|
Departed Chatham, Kent 23 May 1839 for Quebec, Canada [WO12-6201-200].
Departed Quebec 28 Sep 1839; arrived Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land 11 Feb 1840 [DPS].
Re-joined 51st Regiment in Hobart 15 Feb 1840 [WO12-6201-169].
|Arrival Western Australia: Ship and Date||Runnymede 25 Jun 1840 from Hobart [TROVE].|
|Military Postings within Western Australia||On board Runnymede 25 to 29 Jun 1840; Perth HQ 30 Jun 1840.|
Perth HQ Jul; on Escort August; Perth HQ Sep to Oct1840.
Mahogany Creek Nov 1840 to May 1841. Regimental & Garrison Duty Jun to Jul 1841.
Rottnest Aug 1841 to Jan 1843.
Perth HQ Feb to Apr 1843 inc. Hospital in Feb.
On Command May 1843; York Jun 1843.
Williams Jul to Sep 1843.
Perth HQ Oct to Dec 1843 inc. Hospital in Oct.
Rottnest Jan to Jun 1844.
Perth HQ Jul 1844 to Jan 1845 inc. Garrison Duty in Nov 1844.
On Command Feb to Jul 1845.
Perth HQ Aug 1845 to Sep 1846 inc. Hospital -7 days Nov 1845 & 5 days May 1846.
On Command Nov – Dec 1846.
Perth HQ Jan to Mar 1847.
[All sourcing from WO12-6202 TO 6208].
|Courts Martial in Western Australia||None.|
|Discharge Date and Place||31 Mar 1847 Perth, Western Australia [WO12-6208-191 & 199].|
|Age at Discharge||c. 31 years [deduced].|
|Length of Service||9 years 6 months [deduced].|
As a young man of 22 with less than two years Army service, it would have been a surprise to him to discover he would be at sea on his way from Quebec to Australia by the time of his next birthday. And after arriving in Hobart on the convict ship Buffalo, it would be less than four months before he set sail on Runnymede, another convict ship returning to England from Hobart, via the Swan River Colony arriving in June 1840; it was certainly an adventure.
During his time in the Colony, Richard Seaton spent 22 months, although not consecutively, at the military post on Rottnest Island. He would have served there during the period when depositions were taken before Charles Symmons, J.P in August 1846, at Rottnest, relative to certain charges of ill-treatment to the native prisoners, made against Mr. Henry Vincent, the Superintendent. Eight soldiers from the 51st Regiment, a native prisoner, a Fremantle gaoler and an interpreter gave depositions before a bench of magistrates. Seaton was not one of those deposed.
Just over nine years from his enlistment he chose to discharge from the Army. Perhaps he could envisage yet another long journey at sea ahead of him! Richard Seaton’s Army records are sparse. A number of details have been deduced from his enlistment record, but unfortunately this does not include his birthplace or year of birth.
Similarly, details of the conditions of his discharge (along with 17 other privates of the 51st Regiment) are not available. Musters and Pay Lists have been checked for possible records from Hobart and Java, the regiment’s departing ship to India, from WO12-6208 folios 289-364; from Western Australia WO12-6208 folios 181-211; and from Chatham WO12-6209 folios 346-361. Just one record is sufficiently legible to show the names of the discharged men on 31st March 1847 (right).
The Commandant of Troops’ General Orders often show the conditions of discharge, if a discharge to pension is not relevant, i.e. by purchase, free, free with gratuity, etc. but the status of the privates discharged from the 51st Regiment was not recorded. No General Orders are extant from 27th June 1846 by Major & Commandant F C Irwin [WO28-266 folio 61] until 4th August 1847 by Brevet Major Robert Bush of the relieving 96th Regiment, confirmed by Lieutenant Colonel & Commandant F C Irwin [WO28-266 folio 66]. This may be because none was written or none survived.
Perhaps Seaton had been a butcher before he joined the Army, because shortly after discharge he advertised in the Inquirer newspaper his intention to start a butchering business. In September the same year a W J Gibbs announced that he and Seaton had commenced a business partnership in the butchering trade. This was a very short lived affair as both parties advertised the dissolution of their partnership in October the same year.
*The registered age at death (40 years) conflicts with Seaton’s age at enlistment in the Army records.
© Diane Oldman 2022